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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Saturday, February 13th 2021

Holden reflects on ‘horrible day’ after heavy defeat

Dean Holden admitted it was 'a horrible day' for City as they were beaten 6-0 by Watford in a performance the head coach deemed 'unacceptable'.

Holden acknowledged his side were well below par and hailed the opponents who won the battle of the three points at Vicarage Road.

City were behind as quickly as the second minute and faced an uphill battle being 4-0 down by half-time, while two further goals after the break completed the miserable afternoon.

Holden said it will be a weekend of reflections as he looks to respond to the challenge with 17 Championship games remaining.

Full interview: Dean Holden post-Watford

One we will never forget

“It’s a horrible day for everyone,” Holden told Robins TV. “The feeling sits right in the gut and to lose 6-0 away from home is unacceptable.

“We were outclassed by a far better opponent today. There were too many lapses in concentration. To go 3-0 down early...it’s a tough ask from there and as I say, everybody is on the floor.

“This is a real bad day and it’s one you’ll never forget. It’s a result which everyone will look at and there are questions to answer now. We’ve got a game in three days’ time and my job is to respond in the next one.”

Test of character

Saturday’s reverse will now be a test of character for the squad, who have pushed to stay within touching distance of the top six despite poor results in recent weeks.

Holden said: “We’ll all look ourselves in the mirror, it’s what I’ve asked of the players. We come out fighting, you don’t quit, you don’t blame yourself or become a victim, you don’t blame someone else. This is a test for everybody connected with this performance.

"We’re all part of it and to move forward quickly you have to step back and think 'where are we now? Where do we need to get to?' That starts with hard work and you don’t get anywhere without it.

“We were outfought at times today and that’s not something that sits right with me.”

Fighting back

Holden is now demanding his players use their disappointment, saying:  “We go back to working hard, get it out of the system as quickly as you can and use it as fuel.

“There are two ways you can go: you can go under or find a way and all through my life I have found a way to respond to challenges and that’s what I’ll do now.”

Where it went wrong

The head coach reflected on where City’s play let them down in Hertfordshire when asked if his players could compete with the promotion contenders.

“There’s no doubt the Premier League teams of last season have huge squad depth and top, top players in every position but that’s not the reason we lost 6-0,” said Holden. “We weren’t at our best today: with or without the ball, set pieces, we didn’t compete well enough and the challenge now is to respond.”

At 4-0 down, Holden looked to his bench with Taylor Moore and young Ryley Towler coming off, the teenager from the Academy making just his second Robins appearance as Holden tries to address the injury-hit left-back role. Adrian Mariappa came in to cover at half-time.

He explained: “I went for experience at left-back in Mapps. Ryley Towler has done nothing wrong today. He’s a young player and I wanted to protect him. We didn’t protect him well enough as a group of senior players and it’s a horrible feeling standing there watching the goals go in.

“We’re all culpable, we’re part of what makes a winning or losing team. As I’ve said since the start of the season, we win together and lose together. We don’t blame, it’s a case of being honest enough about where we went wrong and now we’re lucky we have a game on Tuesday night [against Reading] and we have to show a response.”

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